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I actually felt a little bad after I criticized Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer for only taking two weeks of maternity leave. I thought maybe I should have been more supportive of her choice, even if it did send a pretty messed up message. Only now, she's gone and taken away a big choice for her employees, and I don't feel bad at all criticizing her for this one. Because to be blunt -- it sucks. Big time.
Last week, she announced that employees will no longer be permitted to work remotely. All Things D got a hold of the internal memo, which read in part: "Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”
And with that -- one more big, huge slap in the face of working parents.
Working from home is one of the only ways some working parents can make it work. When work/life balance is already elusive enough, why would she attempt to try and take this away? It sets such a horrible precedent, and it's not only harmful to parents, but to her company who will surely lose valuable talent by not showing flexibility.
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I worked for a huge software corporation before my son was born. When he came into this world prematurely, my rapid ascent up that ladder came to an abrupt halt as I spent months in the hospital with him and ended up quitting my job because of the care he needed at home. Fortunately, for me, my manager at that time didn't want to lose me and offered me a job working from home. It was a great arrangement for me, and really for the company, who already had a well-trained employee with a great track record. Why let someone like that go just because she can't be in the office?
When we moved across the country, the job had shifted a bit where I needed to be in the office once in awhile, and I couldn't do it from Florida, but I managed to find other jobs that have let me work remotely for the past nine years. If I hadn't, I don't know what I'd be doing or if I'd be working. It certainly would be harder.
I've been fortunate, but I've always been baffled as to why more companies don't allow or even encourage telecommuting. With technology today, there's often no reason not to, and in return you get happier employees who are often as productive, if not more productive, than those who work from the office.
Working from home is no breeze. It takes discipline, focus, and childcare. But it also offers the flexibility that many moms need to make it work. I literally don't have time to take a shower some days until late at night, but that's okay because no one is going to see me sitting here in my home office. Every minute counts in the life of a working mom, and those minutes I would spend primping and prepping to go into an office are instead spent on work. If I had to tack on a commute each way to my job and do all the standard chit chat that goes on when you're around coworkers, I would work fewer hours, plain and simple. When I work at home, I'm heads down focused on my job.
I know a lot of women who work remotely, and we work as hard if not harder than those who report into an office. Without face time with a manager, it's our work that must speak for us. There are downsides as well, but for me, it's the best situation I can imagine in which I can do meaningful work and still manage to keep my family running somewhat smoothly.
As with everything, it comes down to the individual. I'm sure there are those who take advantage of telecommuting, and there are definitely jobs that require an office presence. But there are also a large number of highly qualified, talented people who can do a job from home just as well if not better than they can in an office. So to put a big blanket policy in effect that takes away that option for everyone is ridiculous and disappointing, especially from a woman who should know better. Shame on her.
What do you think of Marissa Mayer's policy against employees working from home?
Image via Julie Ryan Evans